PHEW LOBSTER GLOVES
68g Large Black £24.99
Phew Lobster Gloves can be worn on their own or as the outer pair when combined with Phew’s Early Winter Gloves. As Jacks of all Trades, you’d expect there to be some drawbacks. Even so, I have been pretty pleased with their performance - with or without their colleagues, but especially with.
Spec, materials, size
Phew Lobster Gloves eschew four fingers and a thumb, having a single compartment for middle, fourth and little pinkies. The expectation is that this will aid heat retention. They are designed to work best at temperatures between 0 and 8 degrees C - when worn on their own - and -10 to 5 when working in tandem with the Early Winter Gloves.
Made from 85% polyester and 15% nylon, they have neatly finished seams and a comfortable fit. A large size Lobster is designed to fit over a large Early Winter Glove. Sizing has been pretty much as I hoped for when selecting “large”. The inners fit very snugly and the outer slips over perfectly. There’s no awkward lining, but the inside fabric is soft to the touch. Small, medium and extra-large are also available.
You’d expect them to be shower rather than waterproof at this price point, and the seams are stitched rather than taped or welded. Phew describe their Windster fabric as perfect for “riding in icy conditions.” The handy thing is, of course, that a freezing start might lead to a sunny winter day - just taken off the outers.
Strategically located silicone offer patches enhance grip and reinforce the finger/claw ends. There’s a towelling strip, too, for those mopping away unwanted facial fluids. A high cuff, sealed firmly against with Velcro, keeps things snug and secure. Worn in combination, the inner elasticated cuff comes higher up the arm, offering a sort of dual lock for toastiness and fitting easily under the jacket cuff. These are amongst the most comfortably effective cuffs I have come across.
As outer gloves for use with inners, you’d not expect them to have pads to protect your ulnars and so on. This is a bit of a drawback for solo use, but doesn’t seem to me to be a deal-breaker with the flexibility on offer. A pair of summer weight Santini Mitts fitted comfortably underneath - but that may a matter be personal taste - and offered some relief, but took away the slim-fit.
As with the Early Winter Gloves, it was disappointing to find no reflective material.
Worn alone, the Lobster Gloves don’t provide the same comfort as the inners, or of other gloves with padding. Having said that, this hasn’t really been an issue on bars bolstered with dual-wrapping or gel pads.
Grip is perfectly sound across cobbles and rough stuff. I’d anticipated awkward changing on the STIs, but in reality this merely took a little getting used to. Taking care to avoid getting finger-ends snagged was about as bad as it got. On the other hand these were perfect for the MTBs controls and on butterfly bars. Tech stuff is fiddly; the Lobsters have a spongy touch, making fine adjustments difficult, though not impossible - with practice.
With the Celsius touching the top end of single figures on a quick autumn-afternoon blast my hands were very warm, but descending at thirty mph as the temperature dipped with the sun, they remained comfortably. Personal preference has caused others to argue that they’d have slipped a lightweight inner, but it suited me just fine on its own. Down to two degrees on an early morning commute and it was time to pair the Lobsters with the Early Winter Gloves.
Water resistance is better than the spec would suggest. Drizzle and an hour or so of steady rain have not been a problem, but don’t expect them to repel a downpour or several hours of exposure to steady rain. Drying pretty well within forty minutes on the bike post downpour, similar times apply on the line.
Pair up the Lobster and Early Winter gloves, pull the former over the latter and you have a double layer of fabric with warm air sandwiched between. With the temperature fluttering around zero on recent early morning jaunts hands have been toasty. There seems little cause to doubt Phew’s claim of operating effectively down to -10 centigrade.
As you’d expect, there’s also more protection against the rain, but there’s a commensurate increase in drying out times on the bike.
Warmth always has a personal element, but I’ve noticed no pesky constriction points to inhibit circulation, whilst the extra padding has kept numb finger syndrome at bay. Needless to say, dexterity is not so good as when worn alone. Fears that grip would be awkward have not materialised, either on the drops, hoods or flat-bars; frankly, in that sense, it is much like wearing a single heavier weight glove.
By the same score, I’ve been pleasantly surprised how easily they adapted to the STI controls. Not as confident, at first, but sound enough, just not as instinctive for a while. Better than numb-finger groping for the changers. Controls on the MTB flat-bars are a cinch.
Chunkier buttons and switches common on most of my front lamps, such as the Sigma Buster 600 or 2000, are easy to use - provided the bracket is firmly fixed. Spongy touch makes less solid ‘O’ ring fixtures with smaller buttons a bit more of a challenge - such as those on the Sigma Mono. Some, like those on the Knog Blinder Mr. Chips, are pretty much impossible - though I’ll admit to being more than usually cack-handed.
The Lobsters really come into their own when paired up with the Early Winter Gloves. There’s obvious appeal for dawn to dusk rides in early spring and late autumn, but also for overnight rides in chillier conditions. All year round touring cyclists will appreciate the flexibility offered by a system like this. Lack of reflective detail is a draw back, but not everyone will see that as an overwhelming issue.
Overall, the Lobster alone is a decent glove, without being spectacular. However, when combined with the Early Winter Gloves, you have a very well-made and effective and flexible system, though desire for full waterproofing will see you looking elsewhere. On the other hand, I expect these to take me through to spring for most of my riding.